At least 18 of the country’s 24 departments have seen at least one case of GBS in June, which is unprecedented. Since June of 2023, 182 cases have been reported across Peru, of which 147 have been discharged, 31 remain hospitalized, and four have died.
Boluarte’s latest decree sends $3.2 million to the hospitals to improve patient care and increase GBS detection and control measures. Though GBS is not contagious, Peruvian health authorities are moving quickly to acquire human plasma to manufacture intravenous immunoglobulin and human albumin to help treat GBS.
The government’s decree, published in the El Peruano (Official Gazette), warns of an “unusual increase” of a rare disease in a short period of time that threatens the nation’s health services. The rise in GBS “negatively affects the continuity of health services, as there are not enough strategic resources to respond to the volume and complexity of the cases in the different health facilities,” warned the decree.
GBS is a neurological disorder where the immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. It often starts with tingling in the hands, feet, and face, before progressing to muscle weakness and paralysis across the body. In severe cases, GBS can leave one “unable to breathe independently.”
In GBS, immune cells do not function properly and mistakenly attack the myelin sheaths of the peripheral nerves. According to Medical News Today: “The damage prevents the nerves from sending certain information, such as touch sensations, to the spinal cord and brain. This causes a feeling of numbness. In addition, the brain and spinal cord can no longer transmit signals back to the body, leading to muscle weakness.”
GBS can cause lingering issues such as blood pressure fluctuations and irregular heart rhythms as well as sluggish bowel function and urine retention. About one third of patients will experience severe nerve pain. With the right treatment, most people will recover from GBS but they will likely have some form of reoccurring weakness in their muscles.
GBS may show up in individuals who have a compromised immune system after recovering from an infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of GBS may appear weeks after an infection from the influenza virus, the cytomegalovirus, the Epstein-Barr virus, the Zika virus, or Hepatitis A, B, C and E.
GBS is also linked to several vaccines. The latest mRNA vaccines, including those made with an adenovirus (Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca) and those designed to protect against RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) have been flagged by regulators for causing an uptick in GBS. The J&J covid-19 vaccine was slapped with an FDA warning label in 2021, alerting consumers to the increased risk of developing GBS up to 42 days after vaccination.
Additionally, the US Food and Drug Administration noted that GBS is a possible risk from Pfizer’s new RSV vaccine for older adults. There were two cases of GBS out of 20,000 recipients who took the experimental jabs. The FDA now recommends that doctors monitor for GBS after a patient takes a Pfizer RSV shot. The long list of childhood vaccinations are also known to cause GBS in rare instances.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is aware of the deadly and debilitating vaccine-GBS risk and stated that “very rarely, people have developed GBS in the days or weeks after getting certain vaccines.” However, like every other serious health issue related to vaccination, the CDC claims that the “benefits of vaccination far outweigh risks.” Of course, this is not true for the vaccinated individuals who come down with GBS and aren’t treated in time or perish from this most serious vaccine injury. At least one nation -- Peru -- is now taking this issue seriously.